The Unknown: The Red Line.

ho was going to do what? He was having a vision, that much was clear.

Right. So I was feeling kind of lonely, kind of solipsistic for a moment there when the band was playing and everybody dancing and everything, don’t get me wrong, I love Ireland from the heather blazing, the wet green everywhere, the ruins of fortresses just sitting there growing lichen, a part of the landscape, and of course the frothy sweet taste of the Liffey Guinness, but I was just in a kind of a funk. This was of course after the big soul-washing in, where was that, uh, Switzerland after Paris, which was dangerous and crazy, and London, which was lovely but decrepit. And heroin, let me tell you, that shit’s worse than cigarettes. I guess it was just the craze, all the supermodels were doing it, it was a fictional device, a lie at best, a fatal flaw in the whole storytelling paradigm at worst. I had the shakes now and then. I sometimes felt cold, angry, and isolated, a man without a country, a shithead who had worn waxed wings and flown too close to the sun.

I met this guy Buck on the flight over, and he seemed like a nice guy, witty guy, and he’d invited me to have a drink with him and some of his pals that evening, and I did, he invited me to come by a party in a hospital. He’s like a surgical resident, so I figured what the fuck, why not? My friends in the Unknown, and of course Frank, are some of the best friends I’ll ever have, but sometimes I just need to get away from them for a while, get a breath of fresh air, do some work on other projects, brood and pace and meander, see some new faces, that sort of thing. So I say, why not?

I get there and it turns out we’re waiting for this sort of friend of theirs Mina to give birth, but they’re like privileged upper-middle-class surgical students or something like that and they can get a room downstairs and just crack open the bottles and pour right there in the room. And drain. Then you would not believe this—they start talking in Old English and shit like that for ten minutes, meanwhile, in my point of view, being completely obtuse and offensive while doing it and this one dude really offends this other dude in Cockney or something I don’t know fucking Welsh, like the other guy can somehow fucking understand a word he’s saying? and meanwhile I’m totally confused, just pounding down pints because it’s the kind of situation where you realize these people are strange. These people are not ordinary. These people do funny things in hospital rooms so I bug out of there as quickly as possible. Somebody has slipped something in my drink is what I think when I’m waltzing out of there away from those strange fuckers, swore I heard them talking in like fifteen different kinds of English, and they’re supposed to be medical doctors, where the fuck do they get all this spare time to learn to understand each other communicating in fucking fifteen different kinds of English? What I’m thinking. Scary.

So I’m strolling again, wandering streets paved with rocks in old Dublin, checking out the life forms, the people with the charming but highly structured by history and religion type of lifestyle so different from the one controlled exclusively by media that I had come to know and love in the United States of America. Which, I thought, pretty much completely fucks it up. Though even then I was considering retiring to Ireland. So I wander a little there and stop in at this little pub, Oxen of the Sun, and who’s sitting there but Roddy Doyle, Bono, and Kathy Ireland. Things are kind of waxing wavy at this point, and I’m thinking Mickey, Mickey, by God, some Paddy’s slipped me a damn Mickey, in my green! By the way, just an aside here, I didn’t mean Sonny Bono, who is the Dead Republican formerly married to Cher, classic cheezy songs, bad politics, but Bono, who is the living lead singer of a rock and roll band you might have heard of, too.

I was kind of sweaty so I just kind of shied away from them, but Bono spotted me straight off:

—Hey, you aren’t? You are! You are you damn glad bastard you are! You’re one of the Unknown, right?

—Well, Mr. Bono, so I am, so what do you know, no big deal. Buy you a drink?

—You tear my cards, Scotto. Round's on me. I’m a rock star, baby. You know. I’m a star. Round's on me. And don’t call me mister, mister. You damn Americans are so, so fucking formal.

—Yeah. Mrs. . . . Ireland, isn’t it?

—Oh, for the love of God, don’t call me Mrs. It’s Kathy, please, just Kathy.

—Aren’t you a supermodel?

—Yeh. I’m a supermodel, but I have a life, too, you know.


—Yes, here! In fuggin Dublin, yuh grubby mummer. Where did you think I’d go? Fuggin Paris?

—It’s nice there.

—Don’t mean to be full of piss and vinegar, it’s just, I get tired of the fuggin Ireland thing. It’s me name, don’t wear it out.

—I apologize, Kathy. I’ve just been . . . distracted

—Did you really write The Unknown? I love that hypertext. It is so hot—

—I’m just one of many writers, ma'am, of the Unknown. It’s nothing, really. Mr. Doyle, it’s a hell of a pleasure to meet you, I’ve read your boo—

—What, you think you can just walk in here and start dictating—

—Mr. Doyle, I’m a great admirer of your work—

—I’ve seen you people on the television and let me tell you—

—Roddy, you’re one of the more “authentic” writers out there, as far as I’m concerned—

—All we get on the satellite is the Unknown this, the Unknown that. You’re just another band of upstarts, in my estimation. You forget the sound of the real spoken voice, what real words mean to real people, you forget the whole washbasin. Ah, tahellwithit. Another pint?

—Well, I’m, I’d love to, but my friends, we have some kind of reading going on or something, I gotta go. I’ll—I’ll write you sometime, write you sometime. I may be back here, in Kilarney, for Christmas.

—Come back to Dublin, we’ll play football, yuh spry fella yuh.

—I’ll write you Roddy. Kathy, wonderful, absolutely wonderful to mee—

—Leaeeave early then, suit yourself, and I suppose we’re just a cold cup of tea and a stale biscuit? Not worth the time of day?

—Hey now.

—Just pulling your sod there, Unknown.

—Well, later on then.

—Hey Scott, wait up, this is the number of my people. I want you on the tour next time.

—What, like a sideshow?

—Something onstage. You up for it? You’ll be global, baby, platinum. Maybe we could do a CD. Something interactive.

—I’ll talk to the guys. We’ll have to call Marla—

—I’ll fly you out, private jet.

—We’re in, but—

—But what?

—Don’t let Dirk sing. Bad things could happen if you do. First of all, it doesn’t sound good, if you ask me, and second of all, it has some weird effects that could be dangerous. People do the strangest things. We’re talking Altamont revisited. Cool?

—Cool, baby.

—We’ll talk.

—Right on.


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